Welcome to the 2019-20 BYU Athletics Annual Report! We hope you enjoy this look back on another amazing year in Cougar athletics. Please click or tap on the links in the table of contents to read Tom Holmoe’s letter to Cougar Nation, read about and watch highlights from this year's teams, see some of the department's top moments in social media and much more.
Though many of our sport seasons were cut short due to the pandemic, we are looking forward to when we can again cheer for our amazing Cougar teams and make memories together. As you can read from the quotes below, our players and coaches are looking on the positive and are ready to come back better than ever for the 2020-21 season.
Senior Distance Runner Whittni Orton
“I felt like I didn’t have anything to show for my whole year of working for hours every day and continually sacrificing. Then I looked back and realized that I had a ton to show for it. There have been a lot of hidden blessings. Working hard like that is never something you regret.”
Football head coach Kalani Sitake
"We are going through the same process that everybody is going through, but at the same time just being really mindful of others and focusing on the positives. I have seen a lot of families hanging out together and people rallying around each other. I have just been really impressed with mankind altogether and being able to take care of each other. It gives me a lot of hope that we love and care about one another."
Sophomore outside hitter Davide Gardini
“It’s been a bittersweet situation. When we heard the news it was heartbreaking. Everyone this year was so involved and focused on one goal. We wanted to build a culture and we wanted to win. We know we did some good things and we know if we put in the hard work we can do it again next year.”
Sophomore diver Kennedy Cribbs
“I found out in class that they’d canceled NCAAs and I cried in OChem (Organic Chemistry class). I think the teacher thought it was because of OChem, and I definitely do cry because of OChem. I had to think about the fact that I still have more seasons to go; I’m super competitive so this is adding more fuel to my fire.”
Senior guard Jake Toolson
“It’s been incredible. As sad as everyone is and as heartbreaking and as difficult as this situation is for everyone, we were all in this thing together. We all had so much on the line. I’ve felt the overwhelming support from the fans and have reflected on what was one of the best years ever for this program and for me personally, the best year of my life. This team was so special. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to come back and be a part of this.”
Senior outfielder Rylee Jensen-McFarland
“When I heard that the NCAA had said they would consider giving spring athletes more eligibility, I was extremely happy because that is how it should be. The virus can’t just take that away from us. I feel like I have left my mark on BYU, but I just want to make sure to leave no doubt about it. For now, I am making the most of time with my family, staying healthy and ready for whatever the next thing might be.”
Baseball head coach Mike Littlewood
“These guys really know how to compete, and that is something that you just can’t teach. I would have loved to see how all of our young guys progressed through the conference season; I know they would have been great. I believe Cougar fans have good reason to be excited about the future of BYU baseball.”
Senior pole vaulter Elise Romney
“Right now, I’m focused on getting in better shape so that when I can jump again, I’ll be ready. Next year I hope to make it to nationals and be even better than I was this year. Embrace every opportunity that you have to be kind to somebody and be your best self. Sports in general, it can all be over in the blink of an eye because of an injury or the end of your career, so enjoy every part of it.”
Men’s basketball head coach Mark Pope
“The moments this basketball team got to experience this year, the epic moments and incredible storylines, all the things we got to share with each other and the fans, it almost seems selfish to be sad that we didn’t get more. We can and should go on and on talking about the incredible experiences that we shared together. It’ll be sweeter and sweeter for the rest of our lives.”
Men’s volleyball head coach Shawn Olmstead
“We believed that we were the best team in the country, and it had the makings of a pretty spectacular season. We can take pride and joy that we finished No. 1 in the last poll. There were so many good teams out there and there was still a lot of season left to play, but I had all the confidence in the world in my boys going down the stretch.”
Senior guard TJ Haws
“It’s one of those seasons where we had so much adversity. We had times that were as hard as they come and times that were as good as they come. We had a lot of extremely fun wins. We had a senior night that is arguably the greatest senior night of all time. We had a lot of fun wins on the road. The list of adversity goes on and on with injuries, suspensions, a lot of tough stuff. Despite all of that hard stuff, our team just battled every single day and we grew closer. When you’re done with a season like that you look back and there’s no regrets. We gave it all for this team and we put ourselves in a great spot for a great run.”
Freshman pole vaulter Zach McWhorter
“After having it taken from me, I’m going to come back stronger. I’m going to train harder. Each day is a blessing and I’m not going to take it for granted.”
Women’s tennis head coach Holly Parkinson Hasler
"The last few weeks have been difficult, but if there is one thing we learned as a team this past year, it's that we can get through anything together. The girls have so much to be proud of. While it was an unfortunate ending, we were able to see tremendous growth towards what our program is becoming. We want to thank our players, staff, athletic department and fans for their continuous support. The future of BYU women's tennis is bright and I'm grateful and excited to be a part of it."
Director of Track & Field Ed Eyestone
“It’s very surreal. These are unprecedented times we’re living through. The decisions being made in terms of shutting things down are saving lives, so that’s very important. We had our team down in Albuquerque, New Mexico, getting ready for the indoor championships. We were very excited about our prospects. Our athletes had worked so hard to get in a position to compete at the national meet. But I’m so proud of them for making the best of a really tough situation."